As part of a season of programmes on the BBC to celebrate 50 years since Abba’s Eurovision win, BBC Two and BBC Pop Music TV have commissioned When Abba Came to Britain, a 1 x 60 minute documentary from Wise Owl Films.

When Abba Came To Britain looks at the time At the band spent in the UK from 1974 to 1982 and examines their legacy, from Eurovision to ABBA Voyage.

Featuring previously untransmitted interviews with ABBA, the documentary “takes an affectionate look at the ongoing love affair between the UK and the Swedish supergroup.” Wise Owl Films has previously produced BBC Two’s award-winning When X Came To Britain strand (Bob Marley, Nirvana, Motown, Tina Turner and Blondie) and The Hacienda: The Club That Shook Britain.

The documentary will include a wealth of BBC and non-BBC performances, as well as long forgotten news footage, which all show how ABBAmania took hold in the UK in the 1970s and 1980s. The story is brought up to date with the quartet’s return to Britain in 2022, choosing to launch their ‘comeback’ concert – ABBA Voyage – in London.

Contributors include: musicians who performed with the band; tour manager Thomas Johansson, who recalls the performance in Glasgow (1979) which inspired the hit Super Trouper; an ABBA superfan who travelled from Liverpool to London aged 14 to meet the band; staff who worked at their British-based record label; the British Eurovision judge who scored them ‘nul points’ in 1974; the producers behind ABBA Voyage; and a now-famous member of the children’s choir which accompanied ABBA at their Wembley Arena concerts in 1979. It will also feature interviews with musicians who were heavily influenced by the band, including Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie and Blossoms.

Through interviews with those who witnessed the ABBA story unfold, the film will cross the nations and regions, visiting locations which had a part to play in the story, including the Brighton Dome and the Birmingham Odeon where the band played their first ever British concert in 1977, hearing from those who were there.

Rachel Davies, Commissioning Editor, BBC Pop Music TV says: “When Abba came to Britain is a love letter from this country to the beloved Swedish super-group, celebrating the special relationship we have as a nation with Benny, Björn, Agnetha and Anni-Frid. We focus on the stories of individuals who were lucky to be caught up in their world. A must watch for pop fans of all ages.”

Mark Robinson of Wise Owl Films says: “There can be fewer bands, if any, who have straddled generations of British music fans in a more impressive way than ABBA. Their original fans might now be in their fifties and sixties, but their children, and even their grandchildren, will be just as familiar with their biggest hits thanks to the likes of Mamma Mia! and Voyage. This film shows the enduring and often emotional impact that ABBA have left on British fans and musicians across the decades, but we will also chart the key role that Britain played in the band’s history – from the music of groups like The Beatles to playing host to defining moments in their career”.

When Abba Came to Britain is a Wise Owl Films production for BBC Two and BBC Pop Music TV. It was commissioned by Rachel Davies, Commissioning Editor, BBC Pop Music TV and Jonathan Rothery, BBC Head of Pop Music TV. It is produced and directed by Dhivya Kate Chetty and the Executive Producer for Wise Owl Films is Mark Robinson. Leeds-based Wise Owl Films is a non-scripted label of Lime Pictures, part of All3 Media.

Jon Creamer

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